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Former Episcopal bishop sentenced for fatal DUI accident

Tennessee residents might be interested to learn about a fatal drunk driving case involving a former Episcopal bishop. The female bishop, who was once the second-highest ranking leader of the Episcopal Church in Maryland, struck and killed a 41-year-old man who was riding his bicycle on Dec. 27, 2014. She was given a seven-year prison sentence on Oct. 27 after she pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, manslaughter and drunk driving charges.

According to prosecutors, the accused drunk driver had a blood-alcohol level of .22 percent when the accident occurred. Prosecutors say that the woman was texting before she hit the bicyclist. The bicyclist died after suffering from severe head trauma when he was thrown through the windshield of the woman's car. The driver reportedly fled the scene of the crash and then returned 30 minutes later.

Though prosecutors originally asked for a 10-year prison sentence, the Baltimore Circuit Court judge decided to hand the woman a 20-year sentence with 13 years suspended. The Episcopal Church revoked the former bishop's credentials after the accident, and she is now a layperson. At the sentencing hearing, the woman expressed regret about the accident and said that she accepted full responsibility.

A person who causes a fatal drunk driving accident may be able to receive a reduced sentence if they work out a plea deal with the prosecution. An attorney may be able to represent a defendant in this situation and help him or her argue for the minimum prison sentence. Witnesses who can attest to the defendant's good character may help to improve the chances of receiving leniency.

Source: ABC News, "Bishop Who Killed Cyclist While Driving Drunk Gets 7 Years," Juliet Linderman, Oct. 27, 2015

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